Formations Summary

January–April 2023

Unit 1: The Messiah Appears

Charles Qualls, with contributions from Michael McCullar, Gary Parker, and Kathleen Gore Stewart

The Season of Epiphany is a season of new beginnings. We have celebrated Christ incarnate, coming to us in the form of a helpless baby. In the next four weeks, we will explore several remarkable episodes from the beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry. In each of these stories, we learn more and more about who Jesus is and what he came to accomplish. We begin with the visit of the wise men, then turn to the stories of Jesus’ baptism and temptations. Finally, we explore the story of Jesus healing a centurion’s servant. Through them, we will ponder the question of who belongs in the kingdom that Jesus has come to proclaim.

Unit 2: The Reign of King David

LaMon Brown

One of the more challenging yet rewarding pursuits in the historical books of the Hebrew Scripture is biographical studies. In this unit, we will look at four vignettes from the life of David. In lesson one, we will see the elevation of David as king of Israel, followed by his conquest of Jerusalem as his new capital city. In lesson two, David’s plan to build a temple to honor God is not God’s plan for David. In lesson three, David will do something that God has demanded, but God punishes Israel because David does it. In lesson four, we see the aged David appoint his son Solomon as king and provide him with the materials and craftspeople needed to built the temple that had long been David’s dream for God and Israel. Together we’ll ask the questions “Where can I find hope for the future?” and “What will be my legacy?”

Unit 3: Following Jesus

Joseph LaGuardia

This unit will explore difficult sayings of Jesus that relate to discipleship. As we make our way to the cross, we will spend the next five weeks reflecting on our willingness to follow Jesus no matter where our relationship with him might take us. In the first lesson, Jesus turns his attention toward Jerusalem and expects his disciples to do the same. The second lesson considers discipleship from the point of view of God’s inclusive call to God’s great banquet feast. The third lesson challenges us to question any allegiance that might hinder our discipleship, while the fourth lesson highlights the kind of celebration that happens when the “lost” are found. The last lesson puts us in the middle of a teaching moment with a rich ruler who is called to give up everything to follow Jesus. The question is, will we have the courage to give up everything for Christ too?

Unit 4: Easter and Onward

Drew Herring

Followers of Jesus today walk in the footsteps of the first disciples and apostles. The disciples who walked with Jesus into Jerusalem stepped out in faith, greeting him as king when he rode into the city. To do this, they had to succeed in their struggle to understand Jesus’ predictions that he would die, and they had to face the resistance of Pharisees who wanted to silence their praise. Over five weeks, this unit will explore the resurrection and what comes from it, including the Spirit of the Lord, God’s calling us to share the good news of Christ with the world, and our hope for a world full of Christ’s presence and ruled by our perfect savior. May these stories of disciples welcoming Jesus, affirming the resurrection, receiving the spirit, and proclaiming Christ boldly become our stories even as we wait for God’s victorious ending.

May–August 2023

Unit 1: The Work of the Spirit

Gilbert Sanders

What does it mean to imagine God as wind or breath—the literal translations of the Hebrew and Greek words for “spirit”? In this unit, we will explore the work of the Holy Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments, culminating in the Feast of Pentecost with Joel’s vision of the Spirit poured out on “all flesh.” In the next four weeks, we’ll consider the Spirit’s work in creation, in redemp¬tion, and in sanctification. We’ll conclude by exploring what it means to receive the Spirit and the difference the Spirit makes in our lives.

Unit 2: Women in the New Testament

Brent A. Newberry

In this unit, we’ll study several influential women in the New Testament, focusing on the Gospel of John and the book of Acts. We’ll begin with the Samaritan Woman and Mary and Martha in the book of John. In Acts, we’ll study Dorcas and Lydia. These four women’s stories are as ancient as the other followers of Jesus in the New Testament, and their witness to the Way of Jesus is just as faithful even if they are less familiar. Their investment of their lives and livelihoods was not easy in a society where they had less power and respect. By retelling their stories, we will see with new eyes how the Spirit is at work in all people, in all places, all along.

Unit 3: The Prophet Isaiah

Wayne Ballard

This unit introduces us to the first major section of Isaiah, chapters 1–39. In our first lesson, we hear the message God has prepared for Isaiah to deliver to the peoples of Israel and Judah. Lesson two recounts a love song about a vineyard that God created. The third lesson focuses on Isaiah’s call in the temple. The fourth lesson describes a vision of a divine feast that God will prepare for all people to come and enjoy. In our final lesson, the prophet wraps up his messages with a picture of hope in the second exodus and the return of the exiles from captivity. On that day, the land and the people will experience God’s redemption.

Unit 4: Family Relationships

Taylor Sandlin

People who have never read the Bible may be surprised to learn that the families of the Bible fall far short of perfection. In fact, the families we look at in this unit struggle with establishing proper boundaries, agonize over decisions about how much loyalty to show one another, and must work at putting God first in their lives. Studies this unit’s four principles of family relationships will help us grow in our understanding of how God worked with the flawed families of the Bible and can work with our flawed families as well.